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If the American ladies are worse than the English they must be very bad. You say you should like your Emily brought up here. You had better bring her up yourself. You know a good number of English ladies; what encomium could you give of half a dozen of them? The greater part seem to me downright American. I have known more than one Mrs. Audubon. Her affectation of fashion and politeness cannot transcend ours. Look at our Cheapside tradesmen's sons and daughters-only fit to be taken off by a plague. I hope now soon to come to the time when I shall never be forced to walk through the city and hate as I walk.
Monday, January 17. George had a quick rejoinder to his letter of excuse to Haslam, so we had not his company yesterday, which I was sorry for as there was our old set. I know three witty people all distinct in their excellence-Rice, Reynolds, and Richards. Rice is the wisest, Reynolds the playfullest, Richards the out-o'-the-wayest. The first makes you laugh and think, the second makes you laugh and not think, the third puzzles your head. I admire the first, I enjoy the second, I stare at the third. The first is claret, the second ginger-beer, the third crême de Byrapymdrag. The first is inspired by Minerva, the second by Mercury, the third by Harlequin Epigram, Esq. The first is neat in his dress, the second slovenly, the third uncomfortable. The first speaks adagio, the second allegretto, the third both together. The first is Swiftean, the second Tom-Crib-ean, the third Shandean. And yet these three eans are not three eans but one ean.
Charles came on Saturday but went early; he seems to have schemes and plans and wants to get off. He is quite right; I am glad to see him employed at business. You remember I wrote you a story about a woman named Alice being made young again, or some such stuff. In your next letter tell me whether I gave it as my own, or whether I gave it as a matter Brown was employed upon
at the time. He read it over to George the other day, and George said he had heard it all before. So Brown suspects I have been giving you his story as my own. I should like to set him right in it by your evidence. George has not returned from town; when he does I shall tax his memory.
We had a young, long, raw, lean Scotchman with us yesterday, called Thornton.
Rice, for fun or for mistake, would persist in calling him Stevenson. I know three people of no wit at all, each distinct in his excellence—A, B, and C. A is the foolishest, B the sulkiest, C is a negative. A makes you yawn, B makes you hate, as for C you never see him at all though he were six feet high–I bear the first, I forbear the second, I am not certain that the third is. The first is gruel, the second ditch-water, the third is spilthe ought to be wip'd up. A is inspired by Jack-o'-theclock, B has been drilled by a Russian serjeant, C, they say, is not his mother's true child, but she bought him of the man who cries, Young lambs to sell.
Twang-dillo-dee—This you must know is the amen to nonsense. I know a good many places where Amen should be scratched out, rubbed over with ponce made of Momus's little finger bones, and in its place Twang-dillo-dee written. This is the word I shall be tempted to write at the end of most modern poems. Every American book ought to have it. It would be a good distinction in society. My Lords Wellington and Castlereagh, and Canning, and many more, would do well to wear Twang-dillo-dee on their backs instead of Ribbons at their button-holes; how many people would go sideways along walls and quickset hedges to keep their “Twang-dillo-dee" out of sight, or wear large pig-tails to hide it. However there would be so many that the Twang-dillo-dees would keep one another in countenance
-which Brown cannot do for me- -I have fallen away lately. Thieves and murderers would gain rank in the world, for would any of them have the poorness of spirit to condescend to be a Twang-dillo-dee? “I have robbed
many a dwelling house; I have killed many a fowl, many a goose, and many a Man (would such a gentleman say) but, thank Heaven, I was never yet a Twang-dillodee.” Some philosophers in the moon, who spy at our globe as we do at theirs, say that Twang-dillo-dee is written in large letters on our globe of earth; they say the beginning of the “T” is just on the spot where London stands, London being built within the flourish;
wan” reaches downward and slants as far as Timbuctoo in Africa ; the tail of the “g” goes slap across the Atlantic into the Rio della Plata ; the remainder of the letters wrap around New Holland, and the last “e” terminates in land we have not yet discovered. However, I must be silent; these are dangerous times to libel a man in-much more a world.
Friday 27 [for 28th January 1820]. I wish you would call me names : I deserve them so much. I have only written two sheets for you, to carry by George, and those I forgot to bring to town and have therefore to forward them to Liverpool. George went this morning at 6 o'clock by the Liverpool coach. His being on his journey to you prevents my regretting his short stay. I have no news of any sort to tell you. Henry is wife bound in Camden Town; there is no getting him out. I am sorry he has not a prettier wife : indeed 'tis a shame : she is not half a wife. I think I could find some of her relations in Buffon, or Capt" Cook's voyages or the hierogueglyphics in Moor's Almanack, or upon a Chinese clock door, the shepherdesses on her own mantelpiece, or in a cruel sampler in which she may find herself worsted, or in a Dutch toyshop window, or one of the daughters in the ark, or any picture shop window. As I intend to retire into the country where there will be no sort of news, I shall not be able to write you very long letters. Besides I am afraid the postage comes to too much ; which till now I have not been aware of.
People in military bands are generally seriously occu
pied. None may or can laugh at their work but the Kettle Drum, Long Drum, Do. Triangle and Cymbals. Thinking you might want a rat-catcher I put your mother's old quaker-colour'd cat into the top of your bonnet. She's wi' kitten, so you may expect to find a whole family. I hope the family will not grow too large for its lodging. I shall send you a close written sheet on the first of next month, but for fear of missing the Liverpool Post I must finish here. God bless you and your little girl. Your affectionate Brother
OXXXII.-TO FANNY KEATS.
Wentworth Place, Sunday Morning.
[February 6, 1820.] My dear Sister-I should not have sent those Letters without some notice if Mr. Brown had not persuaded me against it on account of an illness with which I was attack'd on Thursday. After that I was resolved not to write till I should be on the mending hand ; thank God, I am now so. From imprudently leaving off my great coat in the thaw I caught cold which flew to my Lungs. Every remedy that has been applied has taken the desired effect, and I have nothing now to do but stay within doors for some time. If I should be confined long I shall write to Mr. Abbey to ask permission for you to visit me. George has been running great chance of a similar attack, but I hope the sea air will be his Physician in case of illness—the air out at sea is always more temperate than on land—George mentioned, in his Letters to us, something of Mr. Abbey's regret concerning the silence kept up in his house. It is entirely the fault of his Manner.
1 Hemorrhage from the lungs ; in which Keats recognised his death-warrant, and after which the remainder of his life was but that of a doomed invalid. The particulars of the attack, as related by Charles Brown, are given by Lord Houghton, and in Keats (Men of Letters Series), p. 193.
You must be careful always to wear warm clothing not only in frost but in a Thaw.-I have no news to tell you. The half-built houses opposite us stand just as they were and seem dying of old age before they are brought up. The grass looks very dingy, the Celery is all gone, and there is nothing to enliven one but a few Cabbage Stalks that seem fix'd on the superannuated List. Mrs. Dilke has been ill but is better. Several of my friends have been to see me. Mrs. Reynolds was here this morning and the two Mr. Wylie's. Brown has been very alert about me, though a little wheezy himself this weather. Everybody is ill. Yesterday evening Mr. Davenport, a gentleman of Hampstead, sent me an invitation to supper, instead of his coming to see us, having so bad a cold he could not stir out—so you see 'tis the weather and I am among a thousand.
Whenever you have an inflammatory fever never mind about eating. The day on which I was getting ill I felt this fever to a great height, and therefore almost entirely abstained from food the whole day. I have no doubt experienced a benefit from so doing — The Papers I see are full of anecdotes of the late King: how he nodded to a Coalheaver and laugh'd with a Quaker and lik’d boiled Leg of Mutton. Old Peter Pindar is just dead : what will the old King and he say to each other? Perhaps the King may confess that Peter was in the right, and Peter maintain himself to have been wrong. You shall hear from me again on Tuesday. Your affectionate Brother
CXXXIII. - TO FANNY KEATS.
Wentworth Place, Tuesday Morn.
[February 8, 1820.] My dear Fanny—I had a slight return of fever last night, which terminated favourably, and I am now tolerably well, though weak from the small quantity of food to which I am obliged to confine myself: I am sure a